Contributor April Chen examines her experience as a student entrepreneur. (Photo by Yaoqi LAI on Unsplash)
(Photo by Yaoqi LAI on Unsplash)

My journey so far as a student entrepreneur has been one that is humbling.

I realize the extent of how much I do not know. I make mistakes, and have to constantly own up to them. I am always asking more experienced people for advice. Any moment, good or bad news could either spur me on or derail me.

There is a to-do list of things that never gets accomplished in the perfect and timely manner I wish it could be done. These are the day-to-day realities, but there is a struggle that goes deeper.

Fear likes to appear in the shadows, every time I begin to take steps toward what I believe in. It plays off of my insecurities, magnifies comparison and creates meaningless talk in my head.

Most of all, fear taunts a projection of its version of the future, based on my past failures.

When I first started working on my startup, I had many opportunities to put myself out there again and again. Instead of auto-piloting into what felt comfortable, I had to intentionally ask myself this question: Is fear the only thing holding me back?

Slowly, I was able to admit I felt afraid and inadequate at times. Yet simultaneously, I felt the strengthening of a new layer of determination to not let fear win. And that determination is probably what I would identify as courage.

Last summer, I first learned about including “a basecamp and summit” in pitching a business. The basecamp is next-action steps and goals in the short term, and the summit is the grand vision of the startup for the long term. I was good at setting goals, but it took some time for me to formulate a vision for our startup. While a vision so incredibly important to have, it is also a concept I am continuing to wrap my mind around. After all, it’s a true north, one that is steady yet infinitely moldable.

That is why entrepreneurs live between “what is”, and “what could be.”

So in this tension, if fear paralyzes, then courage enables.

It is courage that enables me to have hope for the future; to dream for something bigger than myself, something beyond the current realities. Courage also enables me to be fully grounded in the present; to endure through the setbacks and difficulties that arise in front of me.

With courage, I can act and work with no entitlement to the outcome, but simply with a conviction in what I envision. With courage, I can look towards the people I desire to serve and touch, and believe that what I do matters to them.

Starting anything, and continuing to work on it, requires a lot of audacity, resilience, hard work and passion. List all the attributes you need as an entrepreneur, and hints of courage can be found laced in all of them. So, this is more so an encouragement written to myself, to say no to fear and yes to courage — and I am cheering you on to do the same.